Yes, it’s August. And no, it’s not too early to start thinking about your holiday marketing plans.

Related: The three strategies retailers need to overcome holiday surcharges.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to strategy. Because data influences everything we do, we dove into the latest industry research and trends to bring you four data insights to set you up for holiday marketing success.

1. Columbus Day is Important

As the last long weekend before the holidays really hit, Columbus Day is a great opportunity to test your ideas.

Any three-day weekend is important because when customers aren’t working, they’re more likely to be shopping. But since Columbus Day is pretty much the last long weekend before the holiday season really hits, it’s a great opportunity to test into some of your ideas for holiday.

Whether it’s segmentation strategy, offer types, or even subject line A/B testing (all of which you should be consistently testing) consider Columbus Day your last chance to firm up plans for the holiday season. (We’ll save you a Google: this year it’s Monday, October 9 – mark your calendars.)

2. Shoppers Research Early

It’s not just your local pharmacies and big-box stores that have Christmas on the brain earlier and earlier. According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of shoppers begin researching in October or earlier, while only 33 percent begin making actual purchases in that timeframe. To give these customers what they want, make sure your holiday gift guides, and maybe even some “sneak peek” messaging and products, are ready to go early October (maybe around Columbus Day, for example?). This could also be a good time to up your Pinterest efforts and promote any online wish-list functionality to promote saving ideas for later among early researchers.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of shoppers begin researching in October or earlier.

Via 2017 NRF Holiday Planning Playbook

3. Recommendations are Key

When you’re getting those gift guides up and running, make sure they include “top rated” or “our picks” sections to establish credibility among shoppers. According to the NRF, more than half of online holiday shoppers said they purchased an item that was recommended directly from a retailer. Other easy ways to incorporate recommendations during the holiday season include:

  • Predictive product recommendations in email (“You may also like”, etc.).
  • Feature customer reviews as selling tools in email and on-site.
  • Use past purchase data to specifically upsell customers this holiday season.

4. Customers Like to Treat Themselves

Promote self-giving by including treat-yourself messaging throughout the holiday season.

Yes, self-gifting is a thing. In fact, 70 percent of NRF survey respondents said they had bought gifts for themselves during the holiday season. Your business can welcome, and even encourage, this behavior by including “treat yourself” messaging throughout the holiday season (messaging typically reserved for post-12/25, when people are using gift cards or returning unwanted items), and even featuring a “treat yourself” section in that all important gift guide. When it comes to promotions, a good gift with a purchase is a great way to incentivize self-gifters. A classic example of this is promoting a technology gift to men purchasing jewelry during the holidays.

Make sure to check out the DEG blog for more great holiday marketing tips and strategies throughout the holiday season.

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